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Fulham manager Martin Jol is facing up to the prospect of being without Mahamadou Diarra for up to five games as the midfielder looks set to play in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The Mali man returned to the international fold in September and is expected to be selected by Eagles’ coach Patrice Carteron for the tournament which gets underway on January 19.

Diarra could miss Fulham’s games with Manchester City, West Ham, Manchester United, Norwich and a potential FA Cup fourth round tie if Mali progress to the latter stages in South Africa.

And boss Jol is preparing to bolster his squad in the January transfer window to help fill the void left by the 31-year-old.

“As it is now he will go to the African Nations Cup,” said Jol.

“We’ll look to strengthen the squad because if Diarra goes I can do nothing about it.”